The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has asked Brain Injury Australia to develop, and facilitate, a “community of practice” in brain injury for the Scheme. According to the Swiss educational theorist who came up with the concept, Etienne Wenger, a “community of practice” brings together a “group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”
“I think this is in recognition that, with a Scheme that’s under pressure to bring in 460,000 people by 2019-2020,” says Nick Rushworth Executive Officer of Brain Injury Australia, “disabilities that can sometimes be harder to get a read on don’t make the easiest fit with a system that can be a little inflexible in its approach. As a result, it’s been Brain Injury Australia’s experience that the 2,000 or so plans in place for people with a brain injury are pretty hit and miss.”
The primary purposes of the “community of practice” will be to optimise both needs ascertainment and plan fidelity for Scheme participants with a brain injury. “The use of ‘ascertainment’, rather than ‘assessment’, was deliberate,” says Nick. “Brain Injury Australia understands and accepts that the Scheme needs to use assessment tools, to guide the Scheme’s planning for what constitutes ‘reasonable and necessary supports’.” But Brain Injury Australia hears regularly about participants getting far less (sometimes more) in their plan than what they need. “And that’s because Agency staff often rely, solely, on what the person with the brain injury says they need,” says Nick. “What that suggests to me is that the Agency needs to develop a better reckoning of both the lived experience of acquired (as opposed to congenital or developmental) disability, generally and brain injury, specifically – including the lack of insight into the full nature and extent of their disability that as many as 2 in every 5 people with brain injury manifest.”
Nick will facilitate the “community of practice”. It will include a “Clinical Lead”, senior Agency staff and external representatives of the allied health professions.
Further information about the “community of practice” will follow in future newsletters. In the meantime, Brain Injury Australia is keen to hear from Scheme participants, their family members, their advocates, clinicians, allied health professionals and service providers about both what’s working – and not – about the Scheme, as well as the good, the bad and the ugly of participants’ plans. Please do not hesitate to contact Nick Rushworth, Executive Officer of Brain Injury Australia, on (02) 9808 9390 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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